Dogs and Transmission of Infection to Man, “Respected Member of the Family?”

  • Frans van Knapen
  • Paul Overgaauw


Numerous reviews on dog zonoses address long-lasting lists of zoonotic infections, observed worldwide or very specifically in certain regions only. Here we describe the average family dog in the Western hemisphere owned by an average family without sufficient knowledge about potential hazards their pet might transmit to family members.

This chapter is based on semi quantitative risk analysis in order to rank potential health risk transmitted from family dogs to human. Surprisingly every day risk is different from the generally expected potential risk according to traditional ranking of hazards (zoonoses) in dogs in general. Attention is given to human behavior regarding the family dog and responsible dog ownership. Modern trends include pet travel or pet import from endemic to non-endemic areas, without sufficient knowledge amongst pet owners or public health institutes. Of great value is information provided by ESCCAP ( with information for European countries (veterinarians and pet-owners) on prevalences and prevention of parasitic infections in dogs and cats in the major languages of Europe.

Eventually attention is paid to new trends in dog feed such as feeding bones and raw meat. This may have serious consequences for the spread of ordinary zoonoses like Salmonella and parasitic infections not only between dogs, but also to family members.

A last point of attention is the prevention of attracting wild life zoonoses via dogs to family members (eg. Echinococcus multilocularis and Baylisascaris spp.).

Authorities responsible for public health should be encouraged to pay more attention, not only in providing more regulations, but primary in enforcement of existing rules and stimulating responsible pet-ownership. Companion animal veterinarians and (local) public health authorities, including physicians, should contribute equally in zoonoses prevention programs (‘One health’ approach).


West Nile Virus Potential Health Risk Parasite Control Cystic Echinococcosis Echinococcus Multilocularis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. AVMA (Am. Vet. Med. Ass.) (2012) Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership. Pet ownership brochure.Google Scholar
  2. Beck AM, Meyers NM (1996) Health enhancement and companion animal ownership. Annu Rev Public Health 17:247–257PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beeler E (2009) Influenza in dogs and cats (Trevejo T Saunders (Ed), Elsevier Inc). Vet Clin Small Anim 39:251–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berends BR (2006) Risico inventarisatie en evaluatie van het niet-gericht werken met microbiologische agentia in de Universiteitskliniek voor Gezelschapsdieren in Utrecht. Internal report Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS) division Veterinary Public Health. UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  5. Booij-Vrieling HE et al (2010) Comparison of periodontal pathogens between cats and their owner. Vet Microbiol 144:147–152PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cain CL (2013) Antimicrobial resistance in staphylococci in small animals. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 43(1):19–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carmena C, Cardona GA (2013) Canine echinococcosis: global epidemiology and genotypic diversity. Acta-Trop 128(3):441–460.(Epub ahead of print)PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chome lBB, Sun B (2011) Zoonoses in the bedroom. Emerg Infect Dis 17:167–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dado D, Montoya A, Blanco MA, Miró G, Saugar JM, Bailo B, Fuentes I (2012) Prevalence and genotypes of Giardia duodenalis from dogs in Spain: possible zoonotic transmission and public health importance. Parasitol Res 111:2419–2422PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Daugschier A (2001) Importation of parasites by tourism and animal trading (article in German). Dtsch Tierartzl Wochenschr 108(8):348–352Google Scholar
  11. Desplazes P, Knapen F van, Schweiger A, Overgaauw PAM (2011) Role of pet dogs and cats in the transmission of helminthic zoönoses in Europe, with a focus on echinococcosis and toxocarosis. Vet Parasitol 182:41–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Finley R, Reid-Smith R, Weese JS (2006) Human health Implications of Salmonella-contaminated natural pet treats and raw pet food. Clin Infect Dis 42:686–691PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frenkel JK, Dobesh M, Parker BB, Lindsay DS (1996) Xenosphilia of dogs: a habit favoring the mechanical transmission of Toxoplasma gondii and other fecal microbes. Programme guide and abstracts for the joint meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists and the Society of Protozoölogists, p 110Google Scholar
  14. Friese A, Schulz J, Laube H, von Salviati C, Hartung J, Roesler U (2013) Faecal occurrence and emissions of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (laMRSA) and ESbl/AmpC-producing E. coli from animal farms in Germany. Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 126:175–180PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Giessen JWB van der, Giessen AW van de, Braks MAH (2010) Emerging zoönoses: early warning and surveillance in the Netherlands. RIVM report 330214002Google Scholar
  16. Haesebrouck F, Pasmans F, Flahou B, Chiers K, Baele M, Meyns T, Decostere A, Ducatelle R (2009) Gastric helicobacters in domestic animals and nonhuman primates and their significance for human health. Clin Microbiol Rev 22:202–223PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hegglin D, Desplazes P (2013) Control of Echinococcus multilocularis: strategies, feasibility and cost-benefit analysis. Int J Parasitol 43(5):327–337PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Keegan JD, Holland CV (2010) Contamination of the hair of owned dogs with the eggs of Toxocara spp. Vet Parasitol 173:161–164PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kempker R et al (2003) Beware of the pet dog: a case of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a pet dog associated with mrsa infection in household contacts. Clin Infect Dis 46:26–28Google Scholar
  20. Koivusilta LK, Ojantlava A (2006) To have or not to have a pet for better health. Plos ONE 1(1):e109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lee ACY, Schantz PM, Kazacos KR, Montgomery SP, Bowman DD (2010) Epimiologic and zoönotic aspects of ascarid infections in dogs and cats. Trends Parasitol 26:155–161PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lefebvre SL, Reid-Smith R, Boerlin P, Weese JS (2008) Evaluation of the risks of shedding Salmonellae and other potential pathogens by therapy dogs fed raw diets in Ontario and Alberta. Zoonosis Public Health 55:470–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lefebvre SL, Reid-Smith RJ, Waltner-Toews D, Weese JS (2009) Incidence of acquisition of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile, and other health-care–associated pathogens by dogs that participate in animal-assisted interventions. J Am Vet Med Ass 234:1404–1417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Macpherson CNL, Meslin FX, Wandeler AI (eds) (2013) Dogs, zoönoses and public health. CABI, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Marangi M, Berrilli F, Otranto D, Giangaspero A (2010) Genotyping of Giardia duodenalis among children and dogs in a closed socially deprived community from Italy. Zoonoses Public Health 57:e54–58PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nijsse ER, Wagenaar J, Ploeger H (2013) Coprophagy interferes with coproscopical diagnosis of helminth infections in dogs. Proceedings 24th International Conference of World Association Advancement Veterinary Parasitology. Perth, p 423Google Scholar
  27. Okulewicz A, Buńkowska K (2009) Baylisascaris—a new dangerous zoönosis [article in Polish]. Wiad Parazytol 55(4):329–334PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Overgaauw PAM, Boersema JM (1998) Nematode infections in dog breeding kennels in the Netherlands, with special reference to Toxocara. Vet Quart 20:12–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Overgaauw PAM, Knapen F van (2012) (in Dutch) Is being licked by dogs not dirty? Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 137(9):594–596PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Overgaauw PAM, Zutphen L van, Hoek D, Yaya FO, Roelfsema J, Pinelli E, Knapen F van, Kortbeek L (2009) Zoönotic parasites in fecal samples and fur from dogs and cats in the Netherlands. Vet Par 163:115–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peiris JSM, Yuen KY, Osterhaus ADME, Stöhr K (2003) The severe acute respiratory syndrome. N Engl J Med 349:2431–2441PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schlesinger JDJ (2002) Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets. Can Vet J 43(6):441–442PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Shepherd R, Aryel RM, Shaffer L (2006) Animal Health. In: Wagner MM, Moore AW, Aryel RM (eds) Handbook of biosurveillance. Elsevier Acamedic Press, Boston, pp 111–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shewring DJ, Rushforth GF (1990) A bizarre postoperative wound infection. Br Med J 300:1557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shortridge KF, Peiris JS, Guan Y (2003) The next influenza pandemic: lessons from Hong Kong. J Appl Microbiol 94:70S–79SPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Song D, Kang B, Lee C, Jung K, Ha G, Kang D et al (2008) Transmission of Avian Influenza Virus (H3N2) to dogs. Emerg Inf Dis 14:741–746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sprong H, Cacciò SM, Giessen JW van der (2009) ZOOPNET network and partners. Identification of zoonotic genotypes of Giardia duodenalis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 3:e558PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Summa M, Bonsdorff CH von, Maunula L (2012) Pet dogs—a transmission route for human noroviruses? J Clin Vir 53:244–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tan JS (1997) Human zoönotic infections transmitted by dogs and cats. Arch Int med 157:1933–1943CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Trevejo RT (2009) Public health for the twenty-first century: what role do veterinarians in clinical practice play? In: Trevejo T (ed) Vet Clin Small Anim 39:215–224. Saunders/Elevier IncGoogle Scholar
  41. Verrier L (1970) Dog licks man. Lancet 295:615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wade T, Booy R, Teare EL, Kroll S (1999) Pasteurella multocida meningitis in infancy (a lick may be as bad as a bite). Eur J Pediatr 159:875–878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Weese JS, Rousseau J (2006) Survival of Salmonella Copenhagen in food bowls following contamination with experimentally inoculated raw meat: effects of time, cleaning, and disinfection. Can Vet J 47:887–889PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Weese JS (2010) Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in animals. ILAR J 51:233–244PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Westgarth C, Pinckbeck GL, Bradshaw JWS, Dawson S, Gaskell RM, Christley RM (2008) Dog-human and dog-dog interactions of 260 dog owning households in a community in Cheshire. Vet Rec 162:436–442PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. WHO (2002) Future trends in veterinary public health. Report of a WHO studygroup. WHO technical report series, 907Google Scholar
  47. WHO/FAO/OIE (2004) report of the joint consultation on emerging zoönotic diseases. Geneva SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Veterinary Public HealthUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations